My best friend, I’ll call her Carol, who I love dearly and have been friends with for over twenty years, is causing me many problems. Carol is kind, and thoughtful, as well as a giving person, but I can’t tell her anything in confidence without it coming out to the whole small town.
The issue, right now, is that I shared my opinions on several of our close friends, and then, out of nowhere, several of them approached me with hurt feelings. I had told Carol about our friend, let’s call her Susan, who got a terrible new hairstyle, that I hated on her. Carol told Susan everything I said, including that she looked twenty years older. Our other friend, I will call her Jane, has three really troubled teenage and pre-teen aged children who do not go to church and who have been known to hang out with very liberal friends.
I mentioned to Carol that these kids were bound for hell and that Jane really needs to step up her parenting and Carol actually told her that I said those things. There is much more, but I think you are getting an idea of how bad of a friend Carol has been to me.
Please advise if I should end the friendship completely, or just distance her as punishment for several months, if she is willing to retract those horrible things she told our friends first, of course.
I cross my heart and keep my friend’s confidences, help me learn how to help my friend keep mine,
You have genuinely, truly, and deeply made my head and heart, hurt. I believe what needs to happen here is to find some hobbies and things to do in your small town, other than tear people down that you claim to love.
You are calling all of these individuals your friends, yet are saying vile things about them and their families. If you are insecure or feeling bad about yourself, trust me when I tell you that speaking badly about others, to elevate yourself, always backfires, as those hearing you do this just wonder what you say about them, when they are not around.
That being said, it was not nice or kind of “Carol” to tell the other women these hurtful things, even if she thought they should know you were speaking badly about them. She could have told them you were untrustworthy, crossed heart and all, rather than specifically repeat hurtful comments.
Perhaps you two are not as close as you believed yourselves to be, or she feels the same as you, that speaking negatively about others when they are not around is a hundred percent alright. Or did you feel only you may do that, speaking about others?
With sincere hopes that you will take a deep look at why you feel a need to say these things about people you claim are your friends, especially when, frankly, the comments seem very unfounded and cruel.
You could have directly told Susan that you preferred her prior style, but support her. Direct, honest, and still supportive, like a friend. I wish you well in your life journey, and hope that your small town has wonderful things to say, about you.
Dear Violet is a relationship advice column, covering both domestic relationships and familial relationships, as well as friendships. If you have something you want to get advice about, write in and get a third party, no ax to grind perspective. Welcome to Violet’s world. Send questions, comments or concerns attention: Ask Violet c/o Gonzales Inquirer at firstname.lastname@example.org.